Canada Surpasses One Million International Students, Shifts in Indian Applicants

In 2023, the number of international students holding study permits in Canada reached a milestone, exceeding one million, as reported by the Globe and Mail. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) stated that by December, there were 1,028,850 study permit holders in the country, surpassing the earlier estimated figure of 949,000 for the year.

Among the provinces, Ontario hosted the largest share, with 526,015 study permit holders, followed by British Columbia with 202,565, and Quebec with 117,925.

India constitutes the predominant national cohort among study permit holders. As of November 2023, Indian students accounted for 215,190 out of 579,075 permits issued, making up 37%. In 2022, they represented 225,835 out of 548,785 permits, comprising 41%. This surge contrasts with 2018, when the number of Indians with study permits was half the current figure, at 107,070.

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, expressed concerns about the increasing volume of newcomers, stating that the system “has gotten out of control.” He noted a decline in study permits issued to Indian students, attributing it to bilateral tensions following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks about potential links between Indian agents and a specific incident.

Miller highlighted the reduction, connecting it to India’s request for Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats in October, which New Delhi deemed a move for “parity.” The minister acknowledged that the housing affordability crisis in Canada also contributed to declining interest among Indian students.

In response to evolving trends, Canada implemented measures affecting international students. Starting January 1, 2023, new study permit applicants are required to demonstrate CA$20,635, up from CA$10,000. Additionally, designated learning institutions must verify acceptance letters through IRCC, aiming to address the impact of high volumes in specific areas.

The shift in Indian applicants reflects a complex interplay of geopolitical factors, housing issues, and policy adjustments, prompting discussions about the implications of the increasing influx of international students.

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